Windies hope Sabina magic will spark team in decisive India Test

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(Jamaica Observer) WEST INDIES captain Jason Holder says his embattled team will be drawing on past successes at Sabina Park as they look to tie the two-match Test series against India.

Play in the second Test is scheduled to begin today at 9:30 am.

India, skippered by Virat Kohli, hold a 1-0 lead following the massive 318-run victory in the first Test in Antigua and Barbuda.

When India toured the Caribbean in 2016 they won the four-Test series 2-0, but at Sabina Park an outstanding West Indies fight-back ensured that match ended in a draw.

Roston Chase notched a classy hundred, while Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich, and Holder struck impressive half-centuries.

The regional side’s latest result at the venue was a 166-run victory over Bangladesh in July last year.

“Sabina Park has been a really good place for us the last couple of years. We beat Bangladesh the last time, [and] we had a really good Test match against India here,” Holder said during a press conference yesterday.

“It’s a ground where we tend to have a bit of success, so everybody is really up for it. I think the Jamaican public is a public that really adores its cricket. It’s warming to see or to hear a lot of people around the country still giving a lot of encouragement and a lot of support, so I expect really good support here over the next five days,” the 27-year-old all-rounder continued.

The nature of the batting capitulation in the first Test mirrors those seen in recent years in West Indies cricket. They were dismissed for 222 in their first innings and 100 in their second. Taking first strike, the Indians, coached by Ravi Shastri, compiled 297 and 343-7 declared.

Stylish batsman Ajinkya Rahane made 81 and 102 for the visitors. The towering Ishant Sharma took five wickets in the first innings and eight in the match, while his fast-bowling teammate Jasprit Bumrah claimed five in the second.

West Indies pacer Kemar Roach captured four first-innings wickets, while spinner Chase finished with four in the second innings. Chase top-scored with 48 in their first innings.

“I think we’ve got to be decisive — decisive in our footwork, decisive in our shot selection. If we are going to play or if we are going to leave, and that’s just standard cricket. I think we have just got to be a bit more assertive with what we are looking to do. And back our defences, trust the preparation that we have had, and fight through the tough periods,” Holder urged.

Rahane, the India vice-captain, insisted there is no complacency inside their dressing room despite the emphatic first-Test win.

“We have to respect West Indies, they are a quality team, they are a good team, especially playing in the West Indies. We are really confident about what we did in the last game, but we have to be in the present. Cricket is a funny game, we cannot take it lightly, especially in this Test Championship with the points system.

“I’m confident West indies will be looking to come back strong. For us, it is important to play as a unit, to back each individual, and enjoy each and everyone’s success and look for improvements everytime,” the 31-year-old batsman said.

“We are in a good space as a team — as a bowling unit and as a batting unit — so hopefully we repeat our performance from Antigua. They bat deep, their bowling attack is really good, and they did really well against England in previous series,” Rahane said, referencing the Caribbean side’s 2-1 Test win over England earlier this year.

The pitch at Sabina Park has come in for plenty of scrutiny with the West Indies team making clear its desire for a surface with grass, and all indications are that it will be just that, giving both sides’ seam attack something to bowl at.

“I think that’s the backbone of the side — our seamers have been doing it for us,” Holder told journalists.

“Kemar Roach has been outstanding, Shannon Gabriel has been outstanding, and I have also been supportive in the bowling line-up. So yeah, we’ve relied heavily on our pacers for the last couple of years and it’s just a matter of continuing to do the outstanding work,” the West Indies captain added.

So far on this tour, the Floyd Reifer-coached West Indies have been swept 0-3 in the Twenty20 series. They had also lost 0-2 in the three-match One-Day Internationals (ODIs), with rain ruining the other contest.